2018 Ram 1500 Rebel: Rugged pick-up adds enhancements this year, and significant changes next year

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Dodge has been building trucks since 1917, and it introduced the Ram to the light-duty market in 1994. Formerly called the Dodge Ram, the Ram truck was launched as a stand-alone division in 2009, and has steadily emerged as an industry leader with trucks that are proven to last. Ram’s ruggedness is proven by the metric that over the last 30 years, Ram has the highest percentage of pickups still on the road. And according to industry reports, Ram enjoys the highest loyalty of any half-ton pick-up.

I reviewed the 2018 Ram 1500 Rebel, understanding that Ram will change significantly for 2019, with overall weight reductions totaling nearly 225 pounds. Next year’s Ram will have a new look, new grillework and new wider and longer design; a tweaked interior and center stack; a new frame featuring 98 percent high-strength steel to improve durability, weight and rigidity for improved handling; improved aerodynamics and handling dynamics; next-generation, class-exclusive air suspension for enhanced fuel efficiency, ride and stability; and a gain in fuel efficiency from its engine choices.

But that doesn’t mean Ram has remained the same for 2018. New enhancements and upgrades for 2018 include: • A new Ultra-luxurious Limited Tungsten edition • Sport model appearance upgrade • Factory-installed leather interior option on Rebel models • 8.4-inch radios with 4G LTE, HD Radio, Android Auto, Apple Car Play, USB Flip, pinch to zoom and improved resolution • Sirius Guardian with SOS Call, Roadside Assistance, Remote Services, Send and Go, and Vehicle Finder • Remote exterior switch in truck bed to activate LED bed lights • Backup camera now standard on all models • Fleet Telematics Module for vehicle tracking efficiency

Offered in 11 trims, with 12 color options, three engine choices, 2WD or 4WD configurations, three cab sizes and three bed sizes, the 2018 Ram 1500 really presents a choice – hundreds of choices -- for anyone who is truck savvy.

The Ram 1500 Rebel displays an aggressive off-road design, presenting a custom truck with mainstream capability. The 5740-lb. Ram 1500 sports a muscular, forward-sculpted attitude, large angled headlights and a power bulge in the hood. Measuring 229 inches long, 79.4 inches wide and 75.7 inches high, with ground clearance of 9.3 inches on a wheelbase of 140.5 inches, the Crew Cab’s bed is only 5.7-feet long, with the tailgate 34.9 inches above the ground.

Ram can power up with either an efficient turbocharged EcoDiesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, for towing up to 9,200 pounds while delivering fuel economy of 29 mpg on the highway; or a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with variable-valve timing that offers 305 horsepower, 269 lb.-ft. of torque and fuel economy of 18mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. And for those of us who believe Ram means HEMI, my Ram 1500 Rebel muscled up with the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with fuel-saving cylinder shut-off and VVT. The system thunders out 395 hp and 410 lb.-ft. of torque for an EPA rating of 15mpg/city and 22 mpg/highway.

My test Ram 1500 Rebel was attentive, quick and powerful. Smoking tires when asked, I completed a zero-to-60mph dash in 7.3 seconds and finish off a quarter-mile in 15.4. During a week of stomping on it, passing at speed and flexing its muscles, my Rebel averaged 15.7mpg.

The well-appointed interior provides 41 inches of front Crew Cab headroom and 39.9 inches in row two; legroom is 41 inches up front and 40.3 inches in the rear, and shoulder room is 66 inches and 65.7. Among cabin amenities are dual-zone air conditioning, power windows, power locks, speed control, a media center with a 30-gigabyte hard drive, and heated and ventilated front seats.

Ram 1500 attends to safety with standard front airbags, front and rear side-curtain air bags and seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax air bags with Enhanced Accident Response System, knee bolsters, seat-belt pretensioners and ParkSense rear park assist. The 2017 Ram 1500 also includes standard electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, trailer-sway control, hill-start assist and an anti-lock brake system.

The base 2017 Ram 1500 Tradesman starts at $27,095 in 4x2 configuration with a 6-ft.-4-in. box, and 305-hp engine, and moves through 11 trim levels to the $53,695-base Laramie Limited. My test Ram 1500 in Rebel trim is the ninth trim and starts at $45,095 in 4x2. In 4x4, the price started at $47,595 with the 3.6-liter 305-hp engine, automatic trans, a Crew Cab and 5-ft.-7-in. box. Moving up in power to the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine added $1450 and upgraded to an 8-Speed automatic 8HP70 transmission for $500.

Flame Red and Black two-tone exterior paint added $200; Black tubular side steps added $595; and the $695 Luxury group added an Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror; Exterior Mirrors with Turn Signals and Courtesy Lamps; Glove Box Lamp, LED Bed Lighting; Overhead Console with Garage Door Opener. Power Heated Mirrors with Power Fold-AwayRear Dome with On / Off Switch Lamp; a spray-in bedliner added $495; and Uconnect® 4C NAV with 8.4-Inch display added $795; and a rear window defroster added $195.With destination charges of $1695, my Ram Rebel truck-as-tested stickered at $53,965 before incentives, which could discount by as much as $2,000.

You can see 101 years of Dodge/Ram trucks and nearly 3,000 vehicles from all eras of the Chrysler brand, as classics, muscle cars and high-performance new models all converge at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, at the Carlisle (PA) Fairgrounds, July 13-15. Special displays include “50 Years of the Plymouth Roadrunner,” “50 Years of the Dodge Super Bee,” “50 Years of the HEMI Dart and Barracuda,” and tons of half-tons and full-ton trucks.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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